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10,000 Steps Could Prevent 10,000 Cancers Per Year

While 10,000 steps is an established guideline to better health, more than 10,000 cases of breast and bowel cancer could be prevented each year if people took more exercise, such as going for brisk walks or even performing vigorous household chores, according to experts.

Scientists at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) believe that just 45 minutes of moderate exercise a day could stop thousands of cases of breast cancer and thousands of cases of bowel cancer could be prevented if people exercised for 30 minutes daily.

That would cut down the cases of both types of cancer by 12 per cent.

A proportional drop in mortality rates from the diseases would cut deaths from breast cancer by 1,500 and from bowel cancer by 1,900 annually.

The charity is pressing the link because it believes only a third of people know that exercise has a direct effect on cutting the risk of getting cancer, Britain's second biggest killer.

Dr Rachel Thompson, deputy head of science for WCRF, stressed that exercising did not have to mean sweating away in a gym every day.

Alongside brisk walking, other activities that would count include cycling or swimming at a leisurely pace, dancing, gardening and vacuuming combined with other housework

She said: "There is now very strong evidence that being physically active is important for cancer prevention. Even relatively modest increases in activity levels could prevent thousands of cancer cases in the UK every year.

"These figures also show you do not have to go to the gym every day to benefit. You can reduce your cancer risk just by making small changes and this is highlighted by the fact that so many cancer cases could be prevented through something as simple as brisk walking.

"By taking up walking as a hobby or even walking to the shops instead of taking the bus or car, people can make a real difference to their health."

Exercise has a preventative effect on its own but also works in another way because people who are regularly active are less likely to be overweight, which is an important cancer risk factor.

Dr Thompson said that physical activity also reduced the risk of developing endometrial cancer, or cancer of the lining of the womb as it is also called.

The recommendations come days after a study published in the British Medical Journal found that the incidence of weight-loss surgery has risen ten-fold in just seven years.


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